Enhancing Philippine Competitiveness: A Legislative Push for MSMEs

Photo lifted from mict.com.ph

Several legislative measures aimed at enhancing the competitiveness of the nation’s industries, with a particular emphasis on micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs), are in various stages of the legislative process in the 19th Congress. These bills, if enacted, promise to provide substantial support to MSMEs, social enterprises, and various other sectors, ultimately driving economic growth and inclusivity. As these bills progress through various legislative stages, it is crucial for lawmakers to maintain momentum and ensure the successful passage of these measures.

The proposed legislative measures cover a broad spectrum of economic and social development areas. Each bill addresses specific needs within the Philippine economy, aiming to create a more conducive environment for MSMEs and other stakeholders. Among the key legislative proposals pending before Congress are the following:

  1. Senate Bill No. 90 seeks to amend the Export Development Act of 1994, positioning exports as a central pillar for economic growth. Authored by Senators Angara and Villanueva, this bill aims to enhance the global competitiveness of Philippine products and services.
  1. Poverty Reduction Through Social Entrepreneurship (PRESENT) Program, encapsulated in Senate Bills Nos. 97, 782, 1041, and 1441, is designed to institutionalize social entrepreneurship as a strategy for poverty reduction. This initiative, supported by Senators Angara, Zubiri, Villanueva, and Estrada, emphasizes the role of social enterprises in uplifting the poor as primary stakeholders.
  1. National Quality Infrastructure Development Act of 2022: Senate Bills Nos. 628 and 793, introduced by Senators Angara and Estrada, propose the development of a comprehensive national quality policy. This includes the creation of the Philippine National Quality Infrastructure Coordinating Council to enhance product and service quality, thereby boosting trade. The NQI bill has been proposed since the 17th Congress (2016) and it is only moving in the Upper Chamber. In the House of Representatives, Cong. Rufus Rodriguez refiled the bill but it is pending in the Committee and there has been no hearing since the first bill was filed eight years ago.
  1. Shared Service Facilities (SSF) Project for MSMEs, encapsulated in Senate Bill No. 761 by Senator Angara, aims to institutionalize the SSF project to provide essential infrastructure for MSMEs, enhancing their productivity and market competitiveness. The University of the Philippines – Institute for Small Scale Industries did the Impact Assessment for this Project and some of the Institute’s recommendations were mentioned in the hearing, which include lodging of the facilities in higher education institutions, and to upgrade the technology level being procured to align with the needs of the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
  1. Domestic Bidders Preference Act: Senate Bill No. 319, authored by Senators Angara and Villanueva, seeks to prioritize domestic bidders in government procurement projects, supporting local industries. The spirit of this proposal has been incorporated in the New Government Procurement bill, which has passed third reading in both houses of Congress and is up for signature by the Philippine President.
  1. Philippine Accreditation Act of 2022, outlined in Senate Bill No. 1127 by Senator Villar, focuses on establishing a national accreditation policy to enhance the competitiveness of Philippine products and services while protecting consumer interests.
  1. Protected Geographical Indications Act, introduced as Senate Bill No. 1868 by Senator Angara, aims to provide legal protection for locally produced agricultural, natural, and handicraft products, ensuring their market integrity.
Photo lifted from Atty. Leni Robredo FB Page.

Various stakeholders presented their positions, highlighting the benefits and potential challenges associated with the proposed measures. Undersecretary Blesila Lantayona from the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) emphasized the success of the SSF project, reporting significant benefits such as job creation and increased productivity for MSMEs. She stressed the need for continuous support and monitoring to ensure the effective utilization of these facilities. 

The National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) acknowledged the overall intention to strengthen social entrepreneurship in the country. The need for a cohesive framework to support social enterprises, ensuring that the benefits provided are distinct from those for MSMEs to avoid redundancy and ensure effective support for the targeted sectors.

Deputy Administrator Ray Elevazo from the Cooperative Development Authority (CDA) expressed support for the SSF bill, emphasizing its potential to benefit micro, small, and medium cooperatives, which are integral to the MSME sector. He highlighted the importance of organizing farmers and fisherfolk into cooperatives to help them transition from raw material providers to value-added producers, thereby enhancing their economic well-being.

The importance of these measures cannot be overstated. They collectively aim to enhance the competitiveness of Philippine industries, particularly the MSME sector, which is a critical driver of economic growth and employment. By providing the necessary infrastructure, regulatory support, and market access, these bills are designed to create a more favorable environment for MSMEs to thrive and compete globally.

As these bills move through various legislative stages, it is imperative for lawmakers to continue the process with urgency and commitment. The MSME sector, which constitutes the backbone of the Philippine economy, eagerly anticipates the enactment of these measures. By harmonizing the provisions and addressing the concerns raised by various stakeholders, lawmakers can ensure that these proposals are enacted into law and effectively implemented to achieve their intended goals. The proposed legislative measures represent a comprehensive approach to enhancing the competitiveness of Philippine industries, particularly MSMEs. By providing the necessary infrastructure, regulatory framework, and market access, these bills promise to drive economic growth, create quality jobs, and foster inclusive development. 


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